MINISTRY OF BASIC EDUCATION, ARTS AND CULTURE

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Query: The Police must seriously investigate and get to the bottom of those allegations of corporal punishment at the school in Oshikoto Region. We cannot have our children subjected to such a thing.

Query: Education inspector of Omuthiya in Oshikoto Region, we are not happy with certain teachers at Omuthiya Iipundi who beat, bully, punish our children. There is a pregnant teacher who hits the pupils on the hand with one of those big rulers. Inspector, stop the cruelty to our children before they drop out of school.

Query: I do not know why teachers are beating us! Please Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, you have to do something. Some of us do not go to school, because we are afraid of being beaten.

Response: The Namibian government in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia prohibits the application of corporal punishment. The Education Act also prohibits the application of corporal punishment towards any learner by a staff member while performing their duty as teachers. On corporal punishment inflicted on learners, the Education Act 2001 (56) (1) stipulates that: ‘A teacher or any other person employed at a State school or hostel, or private school or hostel, commits misconduct if such teacher or person, in the performance of his or her official duties imposes or administers corporal punishment upon a learner, or causes corporal punishment to be imposed or administered upon a learner. Please inform the school management and/or principal of any cases of corporal punishment at the school.

Query: Forcing our children to do mathematics is not right, because not all of the people are blessed with that ability. Even some of the ministers did not choose mathematics during their school days.

Response: Namibia aims to become a knowledge-based economy. In order to achieve this the Namibian education system needs to improve the quality output of the education and training sector and prioritise subjects that provide a base for developing the most required human resource shortages. All these subjects require mathematics as a pre-requisite.

Currently, mathematics is compulsory for all learners from Grade 1 to 12. In the Curriculum for Basic Education (2010) the ministry adhered to Cabinet directives, together with ETSIP to make mathematics as a compulsory subject up to Grade 12. Mathematics in schools is provided at three different levels – core, extended and higher level. Both core and extended fall under the NSSC Ordinary Level Certificate and NSSC Higher Level Certificate. What will be compulsory to all learners would be the core level, which is a basic form of mathematics.

Query: I don’t know whether I should raise this issue with the president or the minister of education, arts and culture. Schools have been turned into maternity wards and the number is increasing every month. Pregnant girls are allowed at the schools until they are due, so this seems to give fellow learners the impression it’s cool to get pregnant while at school.

Response: It is the responsibility of the ministry to provide education to all, regardless of their social circumstances. The core aim is to ensure that all learners complete their education. In this case, the ministry is guided by the Education Sector Policy for the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy. The policy is divided into two main sections: prevention and management. The prevention aspect is the main focus of the policy. Prevention includes both the encouragement of abstinence, as well as the encouragement of values, such as gender equality and respect for individual autonomy. Practical prevention measures include – but are not limited to – providing safer school and hostel environments and effective access to contraceptives.

Where a pregnancy does occur, the focus is on supporting the learner-mother to complete her education whilst ensuring that the infant’s health, safety and wellness are protected. A learner may choose to continue with her education at school until four weeks before her expected due date, as certified by a healthcare provider, or take a leave of absence from an earlier date if this is advised by a healthcare provider on medical grounds, or if she feels unable or unwilling to continue attending school during any stage of pregnancy.

The policy is not an approval stamp for pupils to fall pregnant, but a tool to prevent, support and ensure that all learners are fully engaged and successfully complete their education. It should be noted that the policy does not substitute its judgment for that of the family. Respect for family and cultural values are a core component of the policy.

Query: Minister of Education Katrina Hanse-Himara, I was transferred from Hardap Region to Windhoek in February. I went from one school to another in search of places from my two children, but all the principals tell me that there are no places. How is it possible to determine space for next year now already?

Response: As part of the ministry’s pro-active effort to enrol learners and ensure there is sufficient teaching place the following year, the application process for admission takes place in June and July. Therefore, by the end of July/ beginning of August, schools have already determined whether there is space available or not. Thereafter principals inform parents and guardians in August in writing of their success or failure to secure a place. Parents and guardians are then required to confirm acceptance of admission of their child.

There is provision for unsuccessful learners to apply for places. In the Khomas Region, unsuccessful learners must register at the Windhoek Teachers’ Resource Centre from September 28 until October 9, 2015. It should be noted that these learners would be placed at any school that still has space available. For more information, please contact the directorate of education, arts and culture in your respective region.

Johanna Absalom, Public Relations Officer: Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Email Address: Johanna.Absalom@moe.gov.na/ O61-2933358.

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